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Boswell, Robert.

55 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679432515 / ISBN 13: 9780679432517
Published by Knopf., NY:, 1997
From Kathmandu Books (Winter Park, FL, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

HC in dust jacket. 1st Printing. This copy signed by Boswell on a tipped in page. A fine copy in a fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 12988

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Knopf., NY:

Publication Date: 1997

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st edition.

About this title


Robert Boswell has a gift for writing people into flagrant, discomfiting existence--as with the incorrigible Dulcie of his acclaimed novel of 1993, Mystery Ride.

Now he conjures up Gay Schaefer, a sultry truck dispatcher who is determined to ignore small-town conventions and possess her life--to make it "original, graceful, adventurous".  Separated from her husband of fifteen years, she meets him once a month at the Desert Oasis Motel for glorious carousing, but pretends they are divorced for the benefit of her teenaged daughter. Meanwhile, hanging around with the local basketball coach sends a strange charge darting through her chest--a casual affair, at first, that threatens to upset the balance of her carefully constructed life.

Gay's daughter, Rita, is muddled, pudgy, obliged to admit that she, unlike her mother, doesn't "know how to dress for disaster".  She doesn't even know whether it actually spells disaster when the river behind her house--the Rio Grande, chugging through New Mexico on its way to becoming the border--turns black, black as coal or oil or death, the night before she starts high school.

During the year beginning that night, disaster does seem to stalk Rita, getting more and more tangible, shaking even her mother's self-possession. It's got something to do with her best friend, Cecilia Calzado--and with Cecilia's brother Enrique, whom Rita starts dating, even though he's still in junior high--and with the fact that years ago Mr. Calzado had moved his family out of the shabby colonia across the river and earned the wrath of a menacing person named Rudy Salazar.

Love, under these circumstances--"American owned love",  as it were--can get brutal. It can even twist into something that looks a lot like hate--and then maybe, just possibly, back into the realm of redemption.


The title of Robert Boswell's novel, American Owned Love refers to the marquee on the motel where Gay Schaefer and her estranged husband, Sander, meet once a month for a pleasant tryst. "American Owned/Love Covers/All Sins/Couples $20, " the marquee says, and under it Gay and Sander contemplate the many faces of love. Their daughter, Rita, doesn't know about the motel, nor does she realize that her parents aren't actually divorced. In fact, there's quite a lot that Rita doesn't know, including the reason why the river behind her house--the Rio Grande--turns black the night before she starts high school.

The year following the river's inexplicable change sometimes runs as dark as the waters. Rita begins dating her best friend's brother, Enrique Calzado, but also attracts the attention of the violent Rudy Salazar. Meanwhile, Gay's carefully balanced life starts to crumble when she finds herself powerfully attracted to the local basketball coach. Rape, anorexia, and the uneasy race relations along the U.S.-Mexico border are just a few of the issues in American Owned Love. Through it all, love runs like a river, sometimes muddied and black, sometimes translucent, always constant.

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